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Best of all worlds

Milita Utsav, a unique dance festival showcasing the juxtaposition of different forms, was a visual treat.

Tapati Chowdhurie |

Meghna Mishra’s Mancha Pravesh launched the three-day festival of Debasish Pattnaik, a disciple of Durgacharan Ranbir. Usually one would think that a Manch Pravesh has little to offer by way of polish.

Though Mishra is in her early teens, she has achieved a decent grip over both nritta and abhinaya. A good young Guru, Debasish Pattnaik, has found a disciple with potential though she has miles to go, as they say. Starting with Kali Mangalacharan, she performed Shankaravarnam Sthayee and Vasanta Pallavi.

Debnrutyam Studio, an institution of dance, music and arts conceptualised by Pattnaik, presented Milita Utsavat the Seva Sadan Auditorium in Bangalore. It was an international jugalbandi dance fest, where Odissi dancer, Pattnaik performed in duet with Russian dancer, Elena Kynazeva.

Especially good was the artistically- chiselled Ardhanariswarathey performed together. It was entertainment, at an intellectual level, with much food for thought. Kynazeva was initially trained by Sujata Mohapatra in the Kelucharan Mohapatra style before she shifted to the Debaprasad style under Pattnaik. She has indeed mastered the intricacies of this dance form, which though ancient, has been rediscovered in the 20th century.

Ardhanariswarais representative of a generative power symbolising the inseparable male and female principles — it represents the unity of opposites in the universe. Purushaand prakritiare two halves of one body — the spiritualistic and materialistic are a part of the whole.

Likewise, Pankaj Rawat, a Kathaka of the Lucknow gharana, unhesitatingly rendered a jugalbandiwith Polina Lavrushkina, who is a Jaipur gharanedar Kathaka. They performed Shiva Mahima extolling the greatness of Shiva through the elegance of both the Lucknow and Jaipur gharanas.

The choreography spoke of Shiva’s blissful dwelling —the sun-drenched Mount Kailash — with Ganga in his locks and Parvaty by his side. The display of pure dance technique was choreographed and conceptualised by Kathak exponent Munna Shukla in raga Shankara. However, without live music Kathak becomes a mere choreographic piece. The charm of sawal jawaband upajcan only be translated through music.

The audience was left spell-bound with Ganga Gamana in the Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi style. Bharatanatyam dancer Shujay Shanbag and Kuchipudi exponent Rekha Satish merged seamlessly into their impeccable choreographic work.

The duo are masters of their respective vocabulary and their bends, arches, sitting positions, karanas and yogic poses, pirouetting, hand gestures, movements of facial muscles and spontaneous emotive body language conveyed it all.

The penance of Bhagiratha did make Ganga descend on Earth with devastating effect before he could be tamed. It is a story full of adventure and the duo brought it to life effectively. They also included the present state of the Ganga and its pollution, which needs to be addressed urgently. At the commencement, Ranjana Gauhar, Odissi teacher/performer/choreographer and recipient of prestigious accolades with immense stage presence and ever-lasting beauty, sailed through the hearts of rasikas with her astapadi, Dheera Samire Yamuna teere vasati vane vanamali.

The beauty of the poem, suitably expressed, was timeless. She did no less while choreographing Swati Tirunal’s Visweswara Darshan ko chalo man kasi. Her visualisation of the piece was, as she said, that of a bhakta like Maharaja Swati Tirunal.

Despite a delay, Gauhar, who has been going down the annals of history with her production of Rabindranath Tagore’s Chitrangada for almost 50 shows, used the time to tell of her journey in creating this piece, which was danced beautifully by her student Vinod Kevin Bacchan, a passionate aspirant of Odissi from the West Indies. The second day of the festival was titled Rasa Rangini.

Compania De Danza, a troupe from Colombia, was invited by ICCR to perform contemporary dance. The form has a vocabulary that is body centric and today, it has reached a high degree of perfection. The troupe performed mind blowing designs and feats with their physique, which requires a great deal of training. They were superb to the core. The troupe performed In/Movilusing two tables as props, used in several ways by changing their positions.

Noopur Performing Arts of Bangalore under Hari and Chetana provided the audience with a brief aesthetic spell, creating aesthetically uplifting designs. They are fine dancers and choreographers who made a mark with their performance.

Pattnaik danced imaginatively to the self-choreographed Jagannatha Astakam of Adi Shankaracharya with his disciples. The imageries were both interesting and easily identifiable.

Descriptions of Lord Jagannatha with disciples pulling his chariot on Rathayatra day with him seated on it, alongside Balbhadra and Subhadra, were endearing moments. This interspersed with sabda swara pata chants bore the stamp of Guru Deba Prasad Das. Pattnaik displayed all the signs of reaching great heights.

Neena Prasad, the Mohiniattam exponent with a doctorate degree in dance from Rabindra Bharati University, practically hypnotised rasikas with her rasa shrishti (creation of aesthetic flavor). Commencing with the stylised rhythmic syllables of Chollukettu she performed a padam changing it into varnam mode.

She showed the loftiness of Rama who subdued the ego of both Hanuman and Arjuna. She had chanced upon this story in the Rajasthani Amar Katha.

Hanuman in a spree to prove himself superior to Arjuna ordered him to build a bridge, which he broke just by a feather touch. However, Rama ordered Arjuna to build the bridge once more and this time Hanuman could not break it. Both of them were humbled.

Incredible sancharismarked the performance. Aaj Ayi Shyam Mohna, a lyric by Swati Tirunal showed the many pranks of Krishna and of course,Vande Mataram, the work of a Malayali poet, was patriotic in spirit.